Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - A grand jury has indicted an Amherst mother on murder charges in connection with the death of her eight-year-old daughter.
More than two years after the lifeless body of eight-year-old Bianca Cartagena was found under a pile of blankets, Candace Cartagena, has been charged in the little girl's death.
Candace Cartagena was arraigned for second degree murder under a sealed grand jury indictment.
An autopsy revealed that Bianca died from asphyxiation.
There was also GHB, a chemical found in a date rape drug, found in her system. However, the amount was not released. Small amounts of GHB are naturally found in the body.
Bianca lived with her grandparents in North Tonawanda. However, she was visiting her mother in Amherst when she died.
After family members could not get a hold of the pair, they checked in and found Bianca dead.
Candace Cartagena was found unconscious in the backyard from what police described as a "self-inflicted illness."
Police ay the mother was the only relative who did not cooperate with authorities.
In the days after Bianca's death, she posted on Facebook, "I have a beautiful daughter Bianca, who I cannot imagine my life without. She makes me smile everyday."
Family members now say they hope Candance Cartagena is held responsible.
An attorney representing Bianca's aunt and grandmother says the family is "relieved" by the indictment.
In a statement, attorney Stephen Cohen says "the family is satisfied that justice is moving forward. We are deeply grateful to Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita and Amherst Police Detectives Gould and Leising for their excellent work on Bianca's case. The thoroughness of the investigation will hopefully lead to a long awaited conviction for this terrible crime."
Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita released a statement, citing an eight month investigation into the homicide.
Explaining why it took so long to bring charges, Sedita says "it is more important to make sure the investigation is truly completed and to get the case right rather than prematurely present it to the Grand Jury."
Cartagena was also arraigned for filing false information on her taxes, allegedly claiming children who were not her own in a 2010 New York State tax return.
Cartagena faces up to 25 years life in prison of she is convicted of second degree murder. She faces up to four years behind bars for Offering a False Instrument for Filing.